Like most new technologies, Ultra HD (a.k.a. 4K) TV format got off to a slow start in 2013, its first full year in the market.
People didn't know what it was, there were only a handful of sets in stores, and - most significantly - "native" 4K programs were few and far between and, for the most part, available only on a special server supplied to buyers of Sony's flagship video projector and mammoth 84-inch TV, each of which sold for $25,000.
In other words, if you were a very early adopter of Ultra HD, you had a TV with four times the pixel count of a standard HDTV but nothing to watch on it.
Actually, that's not literally true. With a 4K TV, you can watch any high-definition movie or show and the TV will automatically "upconvert" the picture to match the TV's 4K resolution, often with outstanding results.
As we progress through 2014, the tide is starting to shift, giving anyone who is shopping for a TV reasons to take another look at Ultra HD.
Reason No. 1: Growing Adoption
Sales for the Ultra HD TV category are projected to reach $1 billion this year as TV makers introduce more Ultra HD TVs than ever before. And in typical consumer electronics fashion, prices are following a steady downward trajectory, with a good number of name-brand 50- and 55-inch models available for well under $2,000, and at least one brand promising to deliver a 50-inch Ultra HD TV for $1,000.
As this trend continues, expect to see even more lower-priced 4K models become available toward the end of the year and into 2015.
Reason No. 2: Content
The log jam in super-high-resolution 4K content is finally starting to break loose.
- Streaming powerhouse Netflix is leading the way by offering popular shows such as House of Cards in 4K.
- Sony and Samsung are introducing media servers designed for streaming and downloading 4K titles from a library of movies and TV shows.
- Those same TV companies are busy forging 4K content partnerships with companies such as Comcast, Amazon, M-Go, and DirecTV, which will lead to TVs with pre-installed apps dedicated to 4K streaming.
- Panasonic launched an online Ultra HD channel for its smart TVs, offering short-form nature documentaries and other content in 4K resolution.
- NanoTech Entertainment is selling a 4K streaming media player that comes bundled with 10 free movie rentals and access to more than 100 hours of free ad-supported content.
- YouTube and Vimeo are streaming nature shows and documentaries in 4K resolution.
Reason No. 3: Because You Want To
Why not own a state-of-the-art TV? As long as the price fits your budget and the TV supports the compression technologies Netflix and others are using to stream content over the Internet, you have nothing to lose and you'll be the proud owner of a TV that can produce the highest quality images available today.
To learn more about home entertainment and TV/video options, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.